Spare a prayer? I mean a squirrel?

WARNING!!! This post might offend you. And also, Mom, I love you, and I know you're going to read this and go "huh" and then sad face, and all I really want to do is share my perspective. I'm not saying I'm right. Dear god no. But please permit me my perspective and a safe channel in which to convey it.

It's about prayer ...

Not religion! I have little perspective on religious matters except for that people's hearts are genuinely filled with good intention, and sometimes we put less stock in our hearts and more stock in ancient and severely edited historical text that may or may not have been sent from up above but even if it was we know this to be true: it's ancient and severely edited. Just be good to each other. Always. And when you're not, buy them a beer after and let them punch you in the kidney, just to keep things even.

But, yeah. Prayer.

Specifically in this context:
  • you are in my prayers
  • i will keep you in my prayers
  • i will pray for you harder
I think this is a beautiful expression. It's a way to convey that you're summoning up your most positive thoughts and energy and pointing it straight at a person or circumstance that could truly use it. When Flossi Flo Flickerstein posts on facebook, bravely maybe, that she dropped a large ceramic squirrel lawn ornament on her big right toe and now she'll never get the lawn mowed in time for her child's backyard birthday party the next day. And her heart is broken because that squirrel is just her absolute favorite and now it's all shards and chipped paint. And now there are squirrel shards throughout the grass that she'll have to pick out so that 2 year olds don't scoop them up and stick them up their noses, and by the way, the check for the magician bounced and he sent an angry text declaring "Show me the money or I'll cut you in half! Like for reals! But not really, but figuratively, cause you know it's all with mirrors anyway, and if I did it would be murder and I'm really just a magician for kids' birthday parties, but c'mon maaaaan, cash in hand, or no show." And you can tell that Flossi is broken hearted, feels defeated, feels like she let her kids down and is pouring her heart out now to 263 friends on the internet. With the hopes of ... what? Hard to say. Let's not go off on a tangent (whaaaa?) and forget what we're getting at. Regardless of her hopes, this is what likely will show up in the comments below her post:

23 likes 3 comments
Judith Crack "Oh honey. That's hard. And just so you know, I liked your comment not cause I, you know like it, but because I totally get it. It'll be okay. Just breathe."
Swan Lakehouse "If only I lived closer! I'm a GREAT magician! And we could totally work out a barter agreement."
Moeneek Judelaw "Gah. Totally been there. I'm praying for you that it will all turn out fine and your toe heals quickly."

Now. What if you knew that Moeneek Judelaw lived about a mile away from Flossi? 

Good intentions? You bet. Moeneek loves her friend Flossi. But here's where I have a tough time with the "I'm praying for you" bit. When that is the only solace given but there is a capacity to actually do more, with action, "I'm praying for you" is kind of, well, hmm (don't hit me!) a copout. 

Say I went next door to Peggy's house, knocked on the door. She answers it and says "Hey Kelli! What can I do for you?" And I answer "Well, shoot, I have to bake cookies for River's class and it's already really late and I just realized I'm out of sugar." And then Peggy says "Ohhhh, geez. What a pickle you are in! I've been there. I'll pray for you that it works out." Really?

But here's our OR moment

And then Peggy says "Ohhh, geez. What a pickle you are in! I've been there. Let me see if I have any sugar you can have."

OR option #2 (of a gazillion)

And then Peggy says "Ohhh, geez. What a pickle you are in! I've been there. I don't have any sugar myself, but, have you met our new neighbors Chris and Louise? Here. I'll walk over and introduce you. Maybe they can help."

This is where I feel like the offer for prayer so often gets taken advantage of and real action doesn't even get thought on. Can we offer our warm thoughts and prayers, but also think really hard about what else we could do? IF prayer works, I truly believe it doesn't work on well wishes alone. It works on the actions of those who see an opportunity to help and find some course of action (people do this! and it's so lovely when they do. it's like the earth tries, for just that moment, to not shake us off and be rid of us entirely). That opportunity may not always be there. Swan Lakehouse lived too far away, but she had her mind in motion to find a solution. Moeneek Judelaw, however, while empathetic, could have said any of these things and validated her offer of prayer with an action to affect change in the life of another:
"Gah. Totally been there. I'll be over in a few to help get the squirrel shards off the lawn."
"Gah. Totally been there. I am so super busy tonight, but can I swing by in the morning to help with last minute details?"
"Gah. Totally been there. I am slammed the next few days, but I might know someone who does magic tricks in exchange for birthday cake. Let me make a couple of calls and get back to you. (and also I'm praying it works out alright)"

That's all. That's my perspective. I'm not knocking prayer. To me it's another word for focused positive energy directed beyond yourself. I just don't believe it stands alone. Like at all. And when there's an opportunity to offer prayer, there is also an opportunity to offer a hand, or a shoulder, or a replacement ceramic squirrel lawn ornament, cause sometimes people have extras.


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